A Glimpse From 82,000 Feet — Kids and a Weather Balloon!

Originally published at www.quest.com — 2 Nov 2015

Finding Your Passion In Life

One of my main passions in life is feeding the mind of my son. As a father, I have been able to rediscover a sense of wonder in learning new things. The opportunity to see the world again through your child’s eyes is truly wonderful; I know many of you reading this would agree.

For the past few years, we have been involved with a group of families that share a common interest in STEM-based activities for their kids. At first, I was a participant in the group and over the years was lucky to become the co-leader. It goes without saying; this is a rewarding experience for me. It can be a time-consuming endeavor, but I fortunately work for a company that places a high value on work/life balance.

Planning Our Project

We have bi-weekly meetings to cover topics with the kids that range from soldering to circuitry, robotics to app development, and even movie making to costume design. Earlier this year, my friend and the other co-leader of the group, Shawn, had the great idea to build a high altitude balloon (HAB) (also referred to as a weather balloon) with the group.

The kids met for a few weeks to plan the event. They needed to decide and build a number of Arduino-based sensors that would go up with the balloon. A cargo area had to be configured to hold all pieces of the hardware we were sending up, which also included a GoPro camera. And, they needed to work with the mentors to build a radar deflector that fit FAA safety guidelines for the launch.

We planned the launch day based on output from weather data on wind patterns and estimated travel path and distance. The information we had read stated that chances of recovery for your equipment may be as low as 50%, and we definitely wanted not only the data back, but also our GoPro!

Launch Day!

Launch day came and excitement was palpable; though I think the parents and mentors were just as excited as the kids involved! Honestly, wouldn’t you be? We were attempting something incredible, something I remember only hearing about scientists and maybe even NASA doing when I was growing up! As we went through final assembly, equipment check, and filled the balloon with helium, everyone involved was smiling ear to ear. The kids got to do a final countdown as we were about to release.

Launch time came and we sent off our hard work, with our fingers crossed!


Our stats from the launch are as follows:
Launch 8:26 AM PST
Land 10:34 AM PST
Recovered 10:40 AM PST

Max elevation 81,880 ft.
Ascent rate 13.9 ft./sec (98 minutes)
Descent rate 43.8 ft./sec (30.5 minutes)

Total distance
60.1 km / 37.34 miles

This was accomplished by a group of young minds ranging from 8 to 13 years of age, assisted by mentors. I consider myself lucky to be involved with this group. I think this is a memory they’ll have for their lifetimes; I know I will.

What Is Your Passion In Life?

The #ExpectMore campaign Quest is currently running to promote the use of its end-to-end solutions to enable work/life balance for our customers is truly something that they themselves believe and practice. Just check out the interesting things I am able to do working for Dell. I’d love to hear about your experiences with STEM, with sports, or with other activities you enjoy and promote with your kids.

Hello Social

April 3rd 2000, I started as a technical support engineer with a mid-size company named Quest Software. Many of my friends and co-workers had moved there over the years from the previous company we all worked at. In fact, if memory serves me right, I was the seventh in a group of nine of us. It also took me a year of work to get hired. I look back and realize this was one of my first lessons in how perseverance can be of huge benefit in the business world. The individuals I moved there with, and the people I worked alongside of became like family to me.

After supporting customers on multiple products as a technical support engineer, I was ready for a new challenge. Something new and exciting, something I could learn new skills in doing.

June 2005 I took on the role of the first support release manager at Quest Software. It came about as the result of work I had been doing with new software releases as a support engineer, along with my VP seeing the need to expand how our global support team ensured readiness prior to customers having access to software. The changed allowed me great opportunities to grow with project/program management skills. It also gave me a view into the business of software and the big picture of a product life cycle. This has been invaluable to my career.

Over the years, I became interested in the marketing side of business. It offered a new way to not only look at business opportunity, but also a different way to interact with customers. Social media became a fascination of mine. An ever expanding set of communication tools; open to those that choose to make use of them. I have used them to gain insight into many things, from my own personal meditation practice, to interacting with thought leaders across the globe, to meeting people who I have grown to consider life-long friends. Social media continues to amaze.

November of 2012, another interesting change occurred not only in my own career, but all of those working for Quest Software. After years of acquiring other software companies to expand our portfolio of products, we became the target of a massive acquisition by none other than Dell!

Dell not only saw the acquisition of Quest Software as a way to expand their own software portfolio, but it also marked a major milestone for the company in offering customers end-to-end solutions. Personally, this has offered an even larger oppurtunity to grow my business knowledge and the big picture I spoke of, got much bigger.

During this time, I again worked on taking a more serious look at what I could do to take my career in a new direction. Dell is an excellent company that puts value in career growth for its employees. Dell is also known for it’s own social media presence. Opportunity knocks for those who listen. I have been fortunate enough to find someone in the Marketing department willing to assist me with expanding my career again. As this move has also taken me a year of work, perseverance yet again pays off.

Tomorrow I start a new role as Social Media & Communities Sr. Advisor with Dell Software. I will be able to take the skills I’ve learned as a technical support engineer, as a support release manager, and, the skills I have learned with my use and study of social media to new levels. I will be able to talk to an even larger number of customers and new friends across the globe.

Exciting times indeed! Let’s connect — links to each of my social media profiles are on Google.com/+KrisFreedain.

Personal Direction for 2015

This isn’t a list of ‘resolutions’. I have nothing against them, I just feel like I already know what needs to be done. 2015 needs to be a year of change. A year to improve. A year to pay more attention to what needs to be done. A year to complete things.

Take my wife out on more dates.
Remember, we were a husband and wife before becoming parents, and, we were boyfriend and girlfriend before that; make an effort to date like we used to. Yes, I put this first in my list for a reason, she has been one of the most important people in my life for more than half of it.

Write more often.
I need to make an effort to write as much as possible. I enjoy writing the majority of the time, and honestly, Medium offers a platform that makes publishing online an enjoyable experience. I also need to figure out a place to write thoughts that will not be published. Maybe even a book draft. Thoughts and input are always appreciated.

Continue to minimize what I own.
I’ve long known that my tendencies lean towards being a pack-rat. I’ve also long known that I hate that tendency. It bothers the heck out of me. Last year I started to become more and more interested in a version of minimalism that will fit my life. I even started writing about it (see my Medium collection ‘To Minimize’). This year I intend to make major progress on this.

Digital de-cluttering.
I have way too many different sites, accounts, listings, apps, you-name-its. Something interesting comes out almost daily and I tend to sign-up just to check things out. Due to this, I have accounts all over the place, many of which I don’t need. This year I plan to whittle these down to a manageable list.

Learn something new.
Arduino. Social Media and Marketing. Build Mandalorian armor. Elder Futhark Runic alphabet. All interests of mine, and all topics I feel the need to move forward with.

I meditate every day without fail and have done so for years now. I feel that I could benefit from a few retreats this year. Even if it just turns out to be 1 day personal retreats where I hike into the woods and sit under a tree for a day. Or find a remote spot on the beach and sit on the shore all day. Either of those options sound fantastic.

Strength Training and GPP
I enjoy strength training. There is something about heavy deadlifts and squats that I cannot really put into words. When I am consistent, I think I have been able to push myself to move some respectable amounts of weight. I need to focus on that consistency.

I hate cardio and conditioning. I always tell people to call the police if they see me running; that means someone is chasing me. However, I know how important it is to get my heart moving on a more consistent basis. I need to find the right balance and be more consistent with it.

Read more
My love for reading has fluctuated for years, but in 2014 I think I’ve found more enjoyment for it on a more consistent level. 2015 needs to be a year to get through my stacks of books and lists of things I want to read.

Comments and suggestions are always appreciated; leave me a note if you feel so inclined.

I’m sure there are a few more things to work on this year — I may update as I go.
Thanks for reading; watch this space.

My Son’s First Hackathon

This past weekend, my son attended his first ‘hackathon’. When Dawn found out about it we signed him up pretty quick to ensure it wouldn’t fill up. He wasn’t sure what to think when we went asked him if he was interested, but as we talked about what he would be doing (and that he would be on the computer for 6+ hours) he was completely sold on the idea.

We have a local startup incubator and coder community that has been doing an amazing job putting together events and classes geared towards youth. The main community for these have been through a group of individuals associated with PeopleSpace.us. If you have kids interested in coding and technology in the Orange County area, I highly recommend connecting with them.

Ready to learn

The Hack.KID.Thon began at 12:30 on Saturday, March 15th. We arrived a little early so he could setup and see which of his friends would be there. By the time the event started, more than 30 boys and girls were there, ready to hack.

To begin, the mentors taught the kids some basic HTML & CSS, using Twitter Bootstrap themes as examples.

Workstations were setup for teams of kids to work together in groups of 4 or 5. This allowed them to assist one another.


Before the teams separated to code for the day’s competition, the mentors asked for a number of ideas for the seven different websites they would be working on. It was fun to listen to listen to what they could come up with; from Minecraft to The Hobbit, from Video Games to Personal Electronics, the kids were full of good ideas.

Once all the ideas were decided, they split into teams and chose one of the topics to develop a site for. Ian’s team got video games; right up his alley.

They each were assigned a section of the bootstrap site to work on and would combine the code back together on the team leader’s machine when complete. Ian got the ‘team’ section of their site where he had to create personal About Me areas for each person on the team. I enjoyed watching all the kids interact with one another. It was a great introduction to group development work.

Hard at work with his section of the site.

Once the teams had completed their sites, they had to FTP it to server and be ready to present in front of the other coders, mentors, and judge.

Presenting their ‘All About Video Games’ site to everyone.

With help from others in the group, each of the presenters did a fantastic job talking about the different features of their site.

Each team did a fantastic job presenting and the entire group had a blast seeing what one another did. The sites they put together had some really fun features, one of my favorites was a site for The Avengers that had a ‘Happy Customers’ section where an older women praised them for helping her get her cat out of the tree! So creative.

Once the teams had all finished their presentations the judge went off to tally up points. He came back and gave each team some positive feedback on what they accomplished and let them know the points assigned. Ian’s team got 2nd place out of seven teams!

Group photo. Check out all the intelligent coders.

Ian had a blast and I think he is going to be re-doing his own website soon with the skills he learned at the Hack.KID.Thon. I’m extremely grateful to all the mentors involved from PeopleSpace.us — they did a great job and we’re looking forward to future events they host.

Originally published at life.freedain.com. March 21, 2014


The big man has been into Minecraft for a while now. He connects to multiple different servers across the world, including one run by an old friend. Just about every one of his friends plays Minecraft, he even has a meetup with a bunch of his buddies from Hacker Scouts once a month. He has a ‘Steve’ head, which is a cardboard box that is shaped like the main character, a foam pickaxe, and about a billion Minecraft t-shirts. We’ll just say Minecraft runs a close second to Mario and Luigi.
I rarely have time to play video games even though I really enjoy them, so I had always held back on getting myself an account. A few weeks ago that changed and I finally went ahead and bought an account. (a funny thing is, another good friend of mine told me yesterday that he’s done the same thing)

The big man and I have been really enjoying it. We rarely connect to anything besides the ‘LAN world’ we created here at home, but, that is perfect. He and I have been creating a world with buildings, a castle, a mansion, a swimming pool, cave, and even a roller coaster! Just he and I.

Today while I was clearing out a cave near our swimming pool, he built a bunch of furniture in our mansion. Check out his DJ booth: (if it doesn’t load, refresh the page, Vine is wonky from time to time)


I have really been enjoying our time playing. We work together to build our own little world. Any other moms or dads out there play? Would love to hear about your experiences as well.